“Good Luck in Group”, all our Basset Hound friends said, as they left the show grounds for the day. They leave us on our “onesies” to take on all the unknown demons of Hound Group competition, much later that afternoon.

Early in our quest for championship points with our first show dog, through a bizarre and cruel twist of fate, we won Best of Breed. Our total dog show experience until that fateful day always started about eight AM and was over by eight-thirty AM, having either won the points for that event or just having another exciting morning at a dog show. But now we got The Breed and found ourselves dispatched on to a place called “Group”.

The Group ring is HUGE. We know not a single solitary sole, not a friendly face in the crowd. There are conversations going on all around us, we speak with no one but watch with awe in our eyes. We are the chosen Basset Hound pitted against the Hound Universe.

A fellow competitor explains our place in the line, “behind the PBGV or Beagle since Bassets are slow”. “Don’t worry”, our new friend said, “ Bassets never get picked in Group” … what a relief. She is right on the money- we don’t get picked, but now that we have been here…we want a placement!

We are blessed with good fortune and an excellent Basset, Champion Symphony’s Maestro, “Muddy”, and found ourselves representing the Basset Hound breed in the Hound Group more and more often, over time. One day to our amazement, a delightful lady with a Bloodhound that regularly wins in Group says, “that’s a really nice Basset Hound”. “Thank you, but Basset Hounds never get picked in Group”. “That dog’s nice enough to win in Group” she says, and as they say … the rest is history.

The lady is Gretchen Schultz, a second-generation Southern California professional handler, and with her husband Bruce, they are “Camp Schultz”, AKC certified professional handlers and members of the Professional Handlers Association.

All because of Bruce and Gretchen’s belief in “one nice Basset”, we closed 2001 with 46 Best of Breed wins, 436 Breed Points, 1640 All Breed Points, 3 Group First’s, 2 Group Second’s, 3 Group Third’s, and 4 Group Fourth’s. As one judge told us “it’s a total package we look for, especially in Group”.

It’s an awesome feeling to get a Group placement, to know on that given day, your dog is one of the “Best of the Best” on the show grounds. The ribbons are big and the trophies are keepsakes. The show officials and sponsoring club officers all gather round as the cameras flash and the prizes are presented. “Top Dog People” stop you and congratulate you on the win and say what a nice dog you have. It’s a different level of competition and definitely “The Other Dog Show”.